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Heartfield seemed unafraid to show his resistance to the insanity of Hitler’s march to war. His political art ripped away the propaganda of ignorance, political lies, and the financial support behind the Nazi war plans. He was beaten, thrown from a streetcar, and finally targeted for assassination. Nothing seemed to stop him. He shouted “swine, swine” repeatedly at a huge Nazi supporter demanding an apology as he smashed his fists into Heartfield’s face. The frail artist didn’t stop shouting “swine” until he was dragged away unconscious.
His supporters had some of his most potent antiwar masterpieces reproduced as posters. These posters were pasted on public surfaces throughout the city of Berlin. These posters were made possible by the painstaking printing process of “rotogravure.” Talented artisans, guided by Heartfield’s precise instructions, etched his work into many small recesses of intaglio copper cylinders. The ink was then transferred to a moving web of paper.
The messages of Heartfield’s political art masterpieces are as relevant today as they were when they were “art as a weapon” against those greedy for power, regardless of the cost. Still, politicians turn their supporters’ gold into speeches full of junk and hatred.